Donations Sparked by First Grader’s Letter Changing Lives

4 years 8 months 4 weeks ago Thursday, December 28 2017 Dec 28, 2017 December 28, 2017 10:02 PM December 28, 2017 in News

EDINBURG – One little girl's viral letter to Santa Claus is still changing lives in the Rio Grande Valley. Crystal Pacheco's viral plea to Saint Nick for basic necessities sparked a school-wide blanket drive.

"A ball, food and blanket," Pacheco told CHANNEL 5 NEWS at the Monte Cristo Elementary blanket giveaway Dec. 20.

The letter sparked an international outpouring of support. More than 1,500 blankets poured in. Some were delivered from distant lands. Messages came in from other countries.

Maria Azucena lives in a colonia near Monte Cristo Elementary. She and her family opened their doors to CHANNEL 5 NEWS to show us what those blankets mean.

Four of her children took home donated blankets. They came just in time for Christmas.

"It was a blessing because it's cold here and it’s good for the kids because it will protect them from the cold," said Maria Azucena. "It was very nice."

She told us the donations are making this winter warmer than years past. A single space heater pumps out heat as fast as it can. It’s still not enough to heat the family’s tiny living room.

Veronica Barbosa's girls took blankets home, too. On Thursday, they’re wrapped in the warmth of a stranger’s generosity. They live in similar conditions.

"Everything is good, very good," said Barbosa. "They are especially helpful during these times of cold so they can be better covered when they go out and wait for the school bus, that way they won’t get sick."

It was Barbosa's youngest daughter Mariajose who put the blankets impact simply.

"It's warmer," said Arleth.

Her sister Arleth, showed her sign of an approval with a thumbs up.

Azucena told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the donations came at the perfect time.

"Thank you very much for the donations, especially to the little girl who wrote the letter about this colonia that has a few homes in need of blankets and other things and thanks to her we were able to receive this," said Azucena.

According to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, statistics about 22.3 percent of children under the age of 18 live in poverty in the state of Texas.

This figure is almost twice as high in Hidalgo County, where 43.2 percent of children under the age of 18 live in poverty.

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